You'll get some hint here that C has become a bit more formal as it has ``grown up.'' That formality is appropriate, and for the second edition of K&R to acknowledge it is appropriate, and for any modern course in C programming to teach it is appropriate. Personally, I learned C before it had become quite so formalized, and occasionally my traditional biases will leak through. I'll try to admit it when they do.
As the authors note, C is a relatively small language, but one which (to its admirers, anyway) wears well. C's small, unambitious feature set is a real advantage: there's less to learn; there isn't excess baggage in the way when you don't need it. It can also be a disadvantage: since it doesn't do everything for you, there's a lot you have to do yourself. (Actually, this is viewed by many as an additional advantage: anything the language doesn't do for you, it doesn't dictate to you, either, so you're free to do that something however you want.)
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This page by Steve Summit // Copyright 1995, 1996 // mail feedback